“My dad and I would always laugh about one of the strangest dinners we ever shared,” begins Kristin Adkins Whitesides, pastor of First Baptist Church in Winchester, Virginia. “After we ordered delicious food and were beginning to imagine the wonderful meal ahead, one of my children turned to my father, and with a gleeful look on his face, he said, “Now, Papa, tell me about venom!”” She continues, “The story we read today from the Hebrew Bible is about the same sort of thing. Poison. Venom. Things that kill you…This story from Numbers 21:4-9 is strange enough that we typically skip over it…except when we turn to our Gospel reading for today, John 3:14-21, Jesus has brought this story of serpents and poison back up in his conversation with Nicodemus.” These passages remind us of how far we have gotten off track. They remind us that “in order to be healed and brought back to life, we have to face the things that are killing us. We have to face ourselves.” In doing so, we can be reminded of the true depth and power of God’s love.
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